Muscle Strength and Tension Headaches

Photo: Dr.RaySykes

Photo: Dr.RaySykes

Recent research discussed in a Fox News article from last month says that weakness in the neck and shoulder muscles may increase the occurrence and frequency of tension headaches.

Professionals with repetitive motions of the same muscle groups tend to experience these types of headaches more than others.

The study testing the extension and flexor muscles of the neck as well as some shoulder muscles. The findings of the study showed that "healthy people in the study had 26 percent stronger neck extension than those with tension-type headaches, but there was only a slight difference between groups in neck flexor strength."

In addition, those who had stronger shoulder muscles (deltoids) and trapezius muscles (between neck and shoulders) reported to have less tension headaches than their weaker counterparts. 

Reduce the number of tension headaches that you get by practicing these exercises. We suggest doing them as soon as you get up, when your neck is most stiff. But don't hesitate to practice neck flexibility on your lunch break or before bed to see better results.

Neck flexion: sit down with your back straight and feet flat on the floor. Lower your head so that your chin touches your chest, but keep your back straight. Hold for 10 seconds, feeling the stretch in the back of your neck. Slowly raise your head, using your neck muscles only. Repeat three times. 

Neck extension: sit in the same position as the neck flexion, but this time, look up and roll your head back, doing a reverse of the neck flexion exercise. Just like above, 10 seconds, 3 times. 

Side to side: Slowly roll your neck to one side as if you are trying to touch your ear to your shoulder, hold for ten seconds and slowly rise up. Repeat on the other side and continue for a total of 4-6 repetitions. 

Muscle weakness may contribute to tension headaches. (2015, May 1). Retrieved June 2, 2015, from